|Image from LaneSmithBooks.com|
Grandpa Green’s life story is told by his great-grandson as he walks through Grandpa’s garden. Each stage of Grandpa’s life is represented by trees, plants, and intricate topiary. Grandpa grew up on a farm, went to war, married the love of his life, and had many grandkids, and even more great-grandkids. Now he is old and sometimes he forgets things, “but the important stuff, the garden remembers for him.”
The illustrations are the focal point in this sweet, but never sugary, life story that won a Caldecott Honor Medal in 2011. The garden is full of pesky animals, gorgeous foliage, and the amazing topiaries. As Grandpa Green’s great-grandson walks through Grandpa’s story in rain boots and overalls it is clear that he is telling this story because he loves his grandfather very much. The text is very minimal, serving to push the story along, while the illustrations provide insight and detail.
When you read this story be sure to leave enough time for everyone to examine the pictures. You may want to read the story twice, once for the story and a second time to look for details in the garden about Grandpa Green’s life.
Throughout the book the boy helps Grandpa Green by finding all the items he’s left behind in his forgetfulness. After you read the book, ask the kids what items they remember and flip back to the pictures.
Use this book for a storytime on grandparents and pair it with Raffi’s song, Down on Grandpa’s Farm. Or use it for a storytime about gardens and pair it with the fingerplay, My Garden.
The Castle Library Blog suggests having children write the life story of an older friend or family member. Use the book to create a questionnaire for that person or ask the questions during/after reading the story together. Use a trait or hobby they love to create illustrations, just as Grandpa Green’s life is illustrated through a garden.